top-rated free essay

The Rise of Teotihuacán

By gebositu Sep 01, 2013 695 Words
1 The city of Teotihuacán, which lay about 50 kilometers northeast of modern-day Mexico City, began its growth by 200 –100 B.C. At its height, between about A.D. 150 and 700, it probably had a population of more than 125,000 people and covered at least 20 square kilometers. It had over 2,000 apartment complexes, a great market, a large number of industrial workshops, an administrative center, a number of massive religious edifices, and a regular grid pattern of streets and buildings. Clearly, much planning and central control were involved in the expansion and ordering of this great metropolis. Moreover, the city had economic and perhaps religious contacts with most parts of Mesoamerica (modern Central America and Mexico). 2 How did this tremendous development take place, and why did it happen in the Teotihuacán Valley? Among the main factors are Teotihuacán’s geographic location on a natural trade route to the south and east of the Valley of Mexico, the obsidian1 resources in the Teotihuacán Valley itself, and the valley’s potential for extensive irrigation. The exact role of other factors is much more difficult to pinpoint—for instance, Teotihuacán’s religious significance as a shrine, the historical situation in and around the Valley of Mexico toward the end of the first millennium B.C., the ingenuity and foresightedness of Teotihuacán’s elite, and, finally, the impact of natural disasters, such as the volcanic eruptions of the late first millennium B.C. 3 This last factor is at least circumstantially implicated in Teotihuacán’s rise. Prior to 200 B.C., a number of relatively small centers coexisted in and near the Valley of Mexico. Around this time, the largest of these centers, Cuicuilco, was seriously affected by a volcanic eruption, with much of its agricultural land covered by lava. With Cuicuilco eliminated as a potential rival, any one of a number of relatively modest towns might have emerged as a leading economic and political power in Central Mexico. The archaeological evidence clearly indicates, though, that Teotihuacán was the center that did arise as the predominant force in the area by the first century A.D.

4 It seems likely that Teotihuacán’s natural resources—along with the city elite’s ability to recognize their potential—gave the city a competitive edge over its neighbors. The valley, like many other places in Mexican and Guatemalan highlands, was rich in obsidian. The hard volcanic stone was a resource that had been in great demand for many years, at least since the rise of the Olmecs (a people who flourished between 1200 and 400 B.C.), and it apparently had a secure market. Moreover, recent research on obsidian tools found at Olmec sites has shown that some of the obsidian obtained by the Olmecs originated near Teotihuacán. Teotihuacán obsidian must have been recognized as a valuable commodity for many centuries before the great city arose.

Long-distance trade in obsidian probably gave the elite residents of Teotihuacán access to a wide variety of exotic goods, as well as a relatively prosperous life. Such success may have attracted immigrants to Teotihuacán. In addition, Teotihuacán’s elite may have consciously attempted to attract new inhabitants. It is also probable that as early as 200 B.C. Teotihuacán may have achieved some religious significance and its shrine (or shrines) may have served as an additional population magnet. Finally, the growing population was probably fed by increasing the number and size of irrigated fields.

6 The picture of Teotihuacán that emerges is a classic picture of positive feedback among obsidian mining and working, trade, population growth, irrigation, and religious tourism. The thriving obsidian operation, for example, would necessitate more miners, additional manufacturers of obsidian tools, and additional traders to carry the goods to new markets. All this led to increased wealth, which in turn would attract more immigrants to Teotihuacán. The growing power of the elite, who controlled the economy, would give them the means to physically coerce people to move to Teotihuacán and serve as additions to the labor force. More irrigation works would have to be built to feed the growing population, and this resulted in more power and wealth for the elite.

Cite This Document

Related Documents

  • Teotihuacan

    ...Pyramid of the Sun Second largest structure in Mesoamerica 3rd largest pyramid in the world Pyramid of the Moon Exhibits the talud-tablero architectural structure that is usually seen in Teotihuacan culture Pyramid of Quetzalcoatl Sacred to the feathered serpent God, known as Quetzalcoatl Shows some of the earliest repre...

    Read More
  • Teotihuacan

    ...Title: Teotihuacan – “The City of Gods” Outline: Topic: Places General Purpose: To inform Specific Purpose: At the end of my speech, the audience will be able to describe the setting of Teotihuacan, and explain the different activities that they can carry out there. Central Idea: The rich heritage of Teotihuacan makes it an excelle...

    Read More
  • The Rise

    ...The History of FESTIVAL CITY Festival City is a territory which holds a very significant place in Guyana’s history. Festival City was built specifically to house the delegates of the first ever Caribbean Festival of Arts (CARIFESTA) in 1972. Visiting guests and artists were accommodated at Festival City. A total of 250 houses were constru...

    Read More
  • Teotihuacan mural

    ... De Young Museum Visit and Teotihuacan Mural Gallery In this response paper I seek to analyze the ethical, legal, and museological issues that surround the Teotihuacan Mural Gallery from the de Young Museum. The gallery is inside the Art of Americas section of the museum on the ground floor. A simple room, the Teotihuacan Mural Gallery is ...

    Read More
  • the rise of the english novel

    ...The Rise of the English Novel The dominant genre in world literature, the novel is actually a relatively young form of imaginative writing. Only about 250 years old in England—and embattled from the start—its rise to preeminence has been striking. After sparse beginnings in seventeenth-century England, novels grew exponentially in productio...

    Read More
  • Teotihuacan Culture

    ...History has been made up of many different cultures, each learning from each other, and previous ones. In Mesoamerica, there were many different cultures reigning at the same time, but there was always one stronger, and more accomplished than the rest among them were the Olmec, and the Teotihuacan cultures. Their artworks have helped us decipher...

    Read More
  • hitlers rise

    ...Account for Hitler’s rise Hitler's rise to power roots from formation of democratic Weimar Republic in 1918 and is completed when Enabling Act passed in 1933 gave him legal power to dissolve the Reichstag and become the sole leader. Hitler was not sole leader till he merged offices of Chancellor & President to become Fuhrer in 1934. Before...

    Read More
  • The Rise of Christianity

    ...The rise of Christianity put an end to the classical age of Europe with the help of the Romans, Christianity spread much faster. Rome was one of the main centers of Christian development. One of the Roman emperors, Constantine, let freedom of conscience for the people, made Christianity on a full legal equality with any religion in Rome, and ...

    Read More

Discover the Best Free Essays on StudyMode

Conquer writer's block once and for all.

High Quality Essays

Our library contains thousands of carefully selected free research papers and essays.

Popular Topics

No matter the topic you're researching, chances are we have it covered.